Spiritual Beggars Return To Zero

Spiritual Beggars Return To Zero
Spiritual Beggars may be a full two years older than guitarist/founder Mike Amott's other, more popular death-influenced metal outfit, Arch Enemy, but the fiery stoner brigade have never attained the degree of celebrity they deserve. Hammering out some captivatingly monolithic chug riffs since 1994, the band couple Amott's unmistakeable guitar squeals and bellowing tone with slower paces, shuffling grooves and a decadent sense of harmonic intensity without being overtly poppy. At that, seventh full-length Return To Zero is more of the same: the missing link between Sabbath's Volume IV and more recent successors such as Fireball Ministry. Upping the ante, however, latest vocalist and Firewind expat Apollo Papathanasio brings his inimitable power metal influence to the band, creating a haunting melodicism and grace previous alluded to on Beggars albums but never captured to this extent. Still, even with this influx of energy, Return To Zero is far from a new growth on the family tree of metal. Sitting comfortably amongst its contemporaries, it offers a few interesting bouts of spirit but remains largely rudimentary and occasionally predictable. Given that, and its resolutely niche style, it's no wonder Spiritual Beggars are gods amongst some and all but unknown to others, rolling around in the shadows of Amott's Enemy. Enjoyable but far from provocative, Return To Zero isn't about to change that. (Inside Out)